Atherton Collieries continued their fine run of form as they put four goals past table-toppers Runcorn Linnets in their Buildbase FA Trophy clash at the newly-named Skuna Stadium.
Colls manager Michael Clegg was missing a total of nine players, and was forced to put together very much a makeshift stsrting line-up against a strong side. Colls top scorers Ben Hardcastle & Jordan Cover remained in Clegg’s starting line-up and rightfully so considering they’ve scored 16 goals in 9 matches prior to Saturday FA Trophy meeting.
Hardcastle was asked to change position by manager Michael Clegg as he dropped back into a defensive midfield role as Jordan Cover and Adam Farrell led the attack for the Colls.
In the opening stages at the Skuna Stadium, it was the home side that were asserting their dominance in the game with some intricate passing which created several chances for Cover and Farrell. The away side were very limited to chances, and it was very much a midfield scrap at times. Both teams exchanged a number of last-ditch tackles as they tried to cancel each other out in the midfield area.
Runcorn Linnets Kieran Nolan could’ve seen red for an off-the-ball incident with Adam Farrell, but after consulting his official, the referee deemed it to be just a yellow card, much to the annoyance of the Colls staff and players. Just two minutes later, Adam Farrell fired home a superb 25-yard strike following a nice piece of play between Conor Gaul and Jordan Cover. Just five minutes later on the half-hour mark, the away side were reduced to ten men as Paul Shanley was shown a second yellow card for an apparent dive in the Colls penalty area.
As the hosts piled bodies forward as they looked to increase the advantage, they came very close as Luke Giverin shot wide after a great through ball from Jordan Cover. Colls were punished also immediately for that miss as Kris Holt fired an expert shot past Latham in the Colls goal to level things up at 1-1.
As the second-half got underway, it took the hosts just two minutes to find the net for a second time as Jordan Cover headed home a delightful cross from Conor Gaul as the hosts regained the lead. Colls were running riot as this stage, Ben Conway stung the palms of the Linnets keeper with a superb headed effort. Cover managed to bag his 8th goal in six games as he expertly rounded the Linnets keeper to extend Colls lead to 3-1.
The away side found a way back into the game out of nowhere as Connor McCarthy curled home a stunning 25 yard effort to reduce the arrears to 3-2. The hosts were still comfortable in the game despite being just one goal to-the-good, and substitute James Sigsworth fired in a stunning free-kick after Ben Hardcastle was brought down on the edge of the Linnets box.
Following the victory, Colls manager Michael Clegg was absolutely delighted with the victory, and insisted that the win was the biggest win in his five years at the club.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Michael Clegg following the final whistle.
In addition, I was joined on the pitch by two-goal hero Jordan Cover as he spoke out following the impressive win over table-toppers Runcorn Linnets, and the second victory over the Cheshire side in the space of just seven days.
Photography courtesy of David Featherstone / Fab Photographic